Reviews for Night Before Christmas


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 September 1999
/*Starred Review*/ Ages 4^-8. Artist Whatley creates a surprisingly fresh interpretation of the beloved Christmas poem "The Night before Christmas." Although most versions focus on St. Nick, Whatley remembers that the father of the house narrates the poem, and he captures all of the feelings of surprise and wonder on the very ordinary-looking man's face. He also makes extensive use of dramatic shifts in perspective, as when he puts the viewer at ground level, looking up at the man staring out his bedroom window as skittish reindeer look down from the roof. Whatley's particular triumph is his depiction of those endearing but realistic reindeer, with their flared nostrils, widened eyes, and open mouths. They look energetic and strong enough to pull the sleigh and add greatly to the poem's slightly comical tone. After leaving the dad with his own special gift, Santa takes off once again. The overall effect isn't subtle or dainty, but it is meticulously executed, with tiny pencil strokes creating variations in coloration and texture throughout the book. Whatley gets every detail of the poem right in this book that simply shouts holiday cheer. ((Reviewed September 1, 1999)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2000 Spring
While some of the illustrations feature dramatic perspectives, the extreme close-ups of St. Nick and of his reindeer are over the top. The narrator, on the other hand, looks like he's stepped straight out of a Maxfield Parrish painting. A subplot in which Santa sees a childhood photo of the narrator dressed in buckaroo garb, then gives him a toy cowboy, adds some interest.Copyright 2000 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1999 September #4
Firelight, moonglow and shadow flicker throughout Whatley's (Whatley's Quest) interpretation of this holiday chestnut. The protagonist here is adult, residing in a New England hamlet; his home is filled with details seemingly from earlier this century. The book exudes a gee-whiz excitement, but the manic expressions of Santa and his reindeer take the idea of wide-eyed wonder a tad too far, breaking an otherwise magical mood. And the significance of the gift Santa winkingly hands the narrator (a cowboy toy that apparently evokes his boyhood) may befuddle younger readers. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1999 October
PreS-Gr 3-Whatley gives the Christmas classic a traditional New England setting and lively characterizations of St. Nick, his trusty team, and the man of the house (who here interacts with and receives a present from the Christmas Eve visitor). The bold, realistically rendered watercolors are done on vibrant full-page spreads and have sweeping details that add another dimension to the beloved poem. With dynamic verve, this version captures the rush of the reindeer, the caring and giving nature of St. Nick, and the surprised delight of the father.-A.C. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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